And the Survey Says ...

Support for WRA legal services is strong with some new recommended improvements

 Tom Larson  |    January 13, 2020
And the Survey Says

Ask any Wisconsin REALTOR® to name the most important services provided by the WRA, and “legal hotline” or “legal forms” will likely be the response. Whether it’s the WRA Legal Hotline, Legal Update publication, or the legal section of articles in Wisconsin Real Estate Magazine, the WRA legal services program has been instrumental in helping REALTORS® avoid the many potential pitfalls encountered during a real estate transaction.  

To ensure the WRA continues to provide the highest quality of legal services in a rapidly changing world of real estate regulations, forms and technology, the WRA wanted to gather feedback from REALTOR® members on how they use the various legal services, their level of satisfaction with these services, and whether additional services or delivery methods could be provided to help REALTORS® remain the center of the 
real estate transaction.  

Survey methodology

To obtain this feedback, the WRA recently conducted an all-member online survey. The survey was sent to all 17,000 members along with a robust member awareness campaign that consisted of ads in Wisconsin Real Estate Magazine, reminders in the weekly Legal News email, weekly email reminders and social media posts. In the end, over 1,200 members responded to the survey. The survey was conducted between October 20 and November 1, 2019. The overall margin of error is +/-3.1%.

In addition to the survey, two focus groups were held in Madison and Milwaukee to obtain more information about the survey responses. The focus groups consisted of 10 to 15 REALTORS® in each location with various backgrounds — age, gender, location, years in the business; various areas of expertise; and various levels of familiarity with the WRA’s legal services.

Survey and focus group results

The survey and focus group results provided excellent feedback on existing services, how they can be improved, and possible new services to be considered.

  • The WRA legal department receives strong performance ratings: Overall, 82 percent say that the quality of the legal services and products being provided by the WRA’s legal department are excellent (46 percent) or good (36 percent). Thirteen percent are unfamiliar with the legal department’s services and were not able to provide a job performance rating.
  • The legal hotline and WRA forms are the most important legal services to members: More than two-thirds of members, say the legal hotline (83 percent) and WRA forms (85 percent) are very important to their business. Members are least familiar with the Legal Tip Friday post on social media (31 percent not familiar) and the service of a WRA staff attorney attending a meeting (24 percent not familiar).
  • Most members learn about legal services from the Legal News weekly email and monthly Legal Update publication: Nearly all members (91 percent) say they learn about legal matters from the weekly Legal News email and the monthly Legal Update (85 percent). Three-quarters also say they learn about legal affairs from the monthly Wisconsin Real Estate Magazine and the WRA Legal Hotline.
  • The legal hotline receives very high satisfaction ratings: Almost all members (80 percent) are satisfied with the hotline, with an impressive 57 percent saying they are “very” satisfied; only a negligible percentage say they are dissatisfied with the hotline.
  • New members lack familiarity with key WRA legal services: A large portion of members just staring out their careers with less than one year of experience are unfamiliar with services like the legal hotline.
  • Older and more experienced members are heavy consumers of legal information: In general, when it comes to consuming legal information, older and more experienced members are at least as likely to use resources than less experienced members. But when it comes to the Legal Update monthly publication and the LegalTalks video series in particular, members with longer tenure are more likely to watch or read regularly and thoroughly. 
  • Members are open to new forms of communication from the WRA legal department: Half of the members say they would like to see a tip of the week on the WRA homepage. Younger members are more open to communication through the WRA Legal Services social media account, podcasts and blogs.
  • Most demographic variation depends on age, experience and role: When it comes to the use and familiarity with the WRA legal department and its services, the key differences are between age, time as a REALTOR®, and whether members are brokers or managing brokers. There is negligible variation when it comes to demographics such as region, gender or association.  
  • Among possible new legal services, members most want legal advice and representation and access to the Legal Hotline on the weekend: Half (52 percent) of members say that access to legal advice and representation would be beneficial to them. Almost half (45 percent) say that access to the hotline on the weekend would be a beneficial service. The second tier of new services wanted by members consists of having a WRA staff attorney by webcast to present an issue (36 percent) and a lawyer referral program (34 percent). Focus groups indicated preference for more specific time frames for return calls from the hotline.

Also, a majority of members would like text messages alerting them to relevant new law changes, license renewal reminders, and state-approved forms’ optional and mandatory use dates when the form changes.

When it comes to additional topics for the legal team to consider, most members would like to see the legal department cover tax and insurance issues. There is also interest in more information on brokerage office management.

What’s next

The WRA board of directors will review the survey results and consider making changes to the various legal services. Some of the recommended changes, such as offering the hotline on weekends, would require additional financial resources, while other recommendations would require expanding the areas of expertise of current legal staff.

Tom Larson is Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs for the WRA. 

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